Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Photo Recipe: Using Textures to disguise a background

I am attempting my 4th Project 365 (I made it about 75% through the first one, completed a second and then let's not talk about the third time.)
Some days, I am inspired. Other days, I look around my house for something-- anything-- to shoot. This was an "other" day. An, "Oh, crud, it's time for bed and I didn't take a photo today." I looked at my dining room table, covered in the paraphernalia that broadcasts, "Two very busy kids live here" and saw my son's new baseball glove. I took one shot, didn't like it, re-positioned the glove and ended up with this:
 I liked it, but then again, I like photos that document my kids' lives. What I didn't like was the warmth of the glove against the cool white window frame, green curtains and that chair on the right.  I went to my favorite textures from Love that Shot, the Old World Collection, and chose "Madrid."
I have a penchant for the dramatic, so even though I toyed with taking the opacity down a notch, I ended up keeping it at 100%, soft light. I love the brick texture on the left and how it made the photo seem more artistic.

 I decided to apply a layer mask, though, and remove the warmth off of the baseball a bit.


Finally, I added one last texture from the Old World Collection, "Salerno."  I applied it at 50%, soft light, to give the photo a little more vignette and to draw focus to that ball and glove.
  I really liked the way that the photo went from being a snapshot in my dining room to something a little more artistic. The warm background isn't as much of a distraction from the glove and ball.
If I can do it, with no formal training, you can too! Misti and Michelle at Love that Shot have taught me all that I know. If only they could end this long, drawn-out winter so we can play some ball!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Photo Recipe: Fun with a snapshot.

Last week, I was lucky enough to go to Las Vegas with my husband, just the two of us.  I left the DSLR at home, so that I wouldn't be all-consumed by trying to find neat angles and interesting subjects and in turn, ignoring my husband.  I would like to say that I was moderately successful.  I was still a little obsessive about documenting the trip, but not as crazy as I would have been with lens choices.  :)

One of my favorite photos from the trip is this one of flowers in the Atrium at The Mirage.

I was pretty darn happy with it, SOOC.  I like my little point-and-shoot.  But, I also like to play and to see what fun changes I can make to the photo.

This time, I decided to concentrate on using Love that Shot's Simplicity Photo Veils.  My favorite one in the group is called "Fire."  It's great for warming up a photo that is too cool.  I applied it in overlay mode at 50%.

I liked the way that it made it seem like we were in the warm wonderful sun, and it added a slight vignette, drawing your eye to the tulip.  I decided I wanted a little more vignette, so I chose the "Northern Lights" Veil and applied it in overlay mode at 25%.

And because I can't just leave well-enough alone, I decided that I wanted a little texture.  The "Twinkle" texture is totally fun.  At full-strength, it will give you the feeling of light being reflected off of a disco ball, or bubbles underwater.  I restrained myself and dialed it down to 50%, soft light.

If you look closely, you can see the texture in the sky.  I think it makes it look like there are clouds floating by.

Hop on over to Love That Shot to check out all of the photo veils and textures that you can use to make your photos more eye-catching!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Photo Recipe: Using textures to add a vignette

This has been the never-ending winter.


I set a goal for myself to use my Lensbaby for all of January.  It was fun at first, but after a while, because I was stuck inside due to the NEVER-ENDING WINTER, I had run out of things to shoot.

And then, miraculously, we had a day that was 45 degrees F.  The clouds parted, the angels sang and I took the Lensbaby outside looking for something other than snow to photograph.  I found this flower between my yard and my neighbor's yard.  I have no idea what it is, which is embarrassing since I have lived here for almost 15 years, but we won't worry about that.  I just liked what I started with:

I liked the blur.  I wish I had placed the flower a little more off-center, but with an impatient puppy, it was good enough.

I wanted to make sure that attention was drawn to the flower, so I wanted to add a vignette.  I went to Love that Shot's Olde World Collection (because I am in love with the textures) and chose "Calais."  Calais reminds me of an old parchment with ink spilled all around the edges. I added it to my photo in soft light mode, at 75%.  Here is the result:

I liked the vignette, but I am never satisfied with subtlety, so I went back to the Olde World Collection and grabbed "Sicily."  I added it in overlay mode at 50%.  And I was in love.

I really liked the strong vignette and glowy center so that your eye is drawn to the flower.  And I loved the colors that the textures added to the photos.

Two simple steps and my photo became much more interesting.

Check out the products and workshops that Love that Shot has to offer!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

True Story

My daughter is amazingly creative.  She draws. She makes all sorts of things out of duct tape.  She made herself a skirt and even made a jacket for her American Girl doll. WITHOUT A PATTERN. Granted, the lack of stretch meant that it took 45 minutes to get the jacket on the doll, but it fit. And it was cute.  She makes duct tape flowers and duct tape wallets and purses and messenger bags. 
She has made all sorts of Minecraft paraphernalia out of those melty plastic beads: diamond swords and iron swords and bows and even a heart.
Her current obsession is the Rainbow Loom.  If there is a YouTube Video, she can follow the steps and create it.  Hexafish? Nailed it.  Tuxedo?  Nailed it.  Turtle?  Nailed it.  Starburst something-or-other?  Nailed it.
So imagine the head scratching when I pulled this project out of her school papers.  It's a simple, follow-the-directions stitching project.  She cross stitches.  She can follow directions.  She should be able to handle this.  You can see what it is supposed to look like.  Nailed it?  Ummm, no.  Not at all. 

I was seriously shocked.  I just stared at it, trying to figure out what in the world she had done.  I mean those stitches look NOTHING like the project is supposed to.
I shook my head and flipped it over to look at the next paper and then I discovered this:

I had been looking at the back of the project...
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Blowing bubbles in Winter

I've had several people share this article with me about gorgeous frozen bubbles and suggest that I give it a try. Since I live in the Land of Lincoln, the land of weather extremes, I knew it was just a matter of time before a nice cold day would come around. 
Enter Winter Storm Ion.  I sent KJ out the the garage last night to bring the bubble mix inside. It was frozen solid. I was really excited by the prospect of super-cool science and photography all mixed together!  Geeked out!
We went out this morning, with the dog.  Winter is fun! Snowstorms are exciting. The dog loved it for five seconds!  Woo hoo!  Snow! Wind! Doggie winter coat! (She secretly hates us.)

After we put the dog back inside, we got the bubbles out and couldn't wait to create gorgeous bubble art (in15°, 20mph wind weather.)  Yay! Frozen bubbles.

More like, "Yay! Frozen bubble solution." Within 5 minutes, I had bubble slushie.

Sure, I was able to blow bubbles, but the 20 mph winds took them away faster than my frozen fingers could get the camera out.  And even if I had been able to get the camera out, there's no way I could have actually found the bubbles in the viewfinder.  Between the gray sky, snow-covered background and swirling snow, I could barely find them with the naked eye before the wind demolished them. Boo.  Stupid Winter Storm Ion.

There was one that froze and then started to pop and drifted about in the the sky like a deflated balloon.  I consider that my victory.  It was awesome.  Can't you just imagine it?

So, those lovely, frosty bubbles, the ones that look like broken glass that the mom in the article managed to capture with such beauty?  Not so much.  Here's my Central Illinois version of gorgeous, frozen, broken-glass bubbles.

See them there, on the stick?

Nailed it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Moment

It's 12:23 am on December 23. I just walked the puppy and now am lying on the couch with her so that she will calm down and go back to sleep. 
I should go to bed. 
I know that Chester will have me up in less than 5 hours so that she doesn't die of starvation 
I should go to bed. 
I have cookies to bake and errands to run and presents to wrap tomorrow. Today. 
I should go to bed. 
But the lights. The glow of Christmas lights fills me with peace and wonder and serenity. I am alone with my puppy and my two cats and my thoughts. 
I don't want to go to sleep. 
Tomorrow will be chaos. 
I want to enjoy the lights. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Photo Recipe: Winterizing a Photo

We got a puppy yesterday.  We've had cats for all 17 years of our marriage and while I love animals, I love cats for their lack of neediness. (Read: we can be gone for hours with no worries.)  But when my in-laws' dog had seven puppies in September, I knew we were toast.  How could we not take on of Bella's puppies?
Rue joined our family yesterday.  Boo and I went on a shopping spree at PetSmart last week and decided that she needed a winter coat.  She is a short-haired dog, after all and and it's supposed to be one doozy of a winter here in Illinois.  When my daughter got home from school, we dressed her up to go outside and of course, I had to take photos.
{Nikon D7000 | 55-300mm lens @ 85mm | f/5.6 | 1/125s | ISO 1000}

This is what I started with:

I'm not one for posing (and 10-week-old puppies and 11-year-old girls feel the same way) so we took a bunch and this one was by far my favorite.  I first adjusted the levels to get the black of Rue's fur a little "juicier." Then I decided the whites weren't white enough.  I went to Love That Shot's Simplicity Photo Veil Collection to see what I could do.  I chose Chamomile an applied it at 25% in overlay mode.  I was pretty happy with the result.  Rue's black was blacker and her whites were definitely brighter.

I am never happy with just one adjustment and I wanted a little more vignette, so I went back to the Simplicity Collection and added the Fairy's Frock Veil. I made sure to choose a veil in the cool range and with the purple-tint of this one, I thought it might be perfect.  I added it at 50%  in overlay mode.

I liked it more, but wasn't quite satisfied, so I added a hue/saturation layer and decreased the saturation to -25 to take a little of the color out of my daughter's hat and coat.  And then I discovered one more veil to really make things look ice-cold:  Vanilla Twilight.  I added this at 50% in soft light.

I really liked the end result.  I think the photo looks plenty chilly now!   If you enjoy simple ways to play with your photos, check out what they have at Love that Shot.  Misti and Michelle will take care of you!